Camera Lenses Explained: how to get sharp photos using fisheye lenses

Camera Lenses Explained: how to get sharp photos using fisheye lenses

In the fourth part of our Shoot Like A Pro Series on how to get the sharpest photos possible with your camera’s lenses, we how to embrace the extreme distortion created by fisheye lenses and get really striking results.

Camera Lenses Explained: how to get sharp photos using fisheye lenses

Like wide-angle lenses, fisheye optics enable you to shoot wide, but the distorted view produced by fisheyes produces much more stylised images. Using a fisheye lens means thinking slightly differently about your shooting technique, because many of the normal rules don’t apply.

For instance, you need to be much closer to your subject than with a conventional lens. The distorted image also makes it difficult to use many of the compositional techniques that work perfectly well with any other type of lens.

After some experimentation with different framing techniques, we captured our most successful shots in Brighton using symmetrical compositions. This was mainly due to the shape of the images we got from the lens we were using.

Fisheye Coverage

Fisheye lenses are all about breaking the rules, so don’t be afraid
to use extreme viewpoints.

Fisheye Coverage
There are two main types of fisheye lens: full frame and circular. A full-frame fisheye produces an image that covers the entire sensor, while a circular fisheye produces a round image in the middle of the sensor with a dark border around it.

This effect varies according to the design of the lens and the size of the sensor in the DSLR. A lens that produces full-frame images on an APS-C sensor will look entirely different on a full-frame camera, so you need to check the coverage for your camera.

For example, the Sigma 8mm lens we were using produces fully circular images on a full-frame camera, and images that are between circular and frame-filling on an APS-C camera.

Check the frame edges
The extremely wide field of view you get with a fisheye lens means that you can end up with your feet, your shadow or your tripod in the bottom of the shot.

This usually looks like a mistake on your part, so always remember to take a quick glance at the edges of the frame to make sure you aren’t in the shot.

Fisheye Distortion

The almost circular images from a fisheye lens make symmetrical compositions work particularly well.

Fisheye Distortion
Fisheye lenses are also characterised by their distorted view of the world. With most lenses you try to avoid distortion, or you use software to remove it.

But with a fisheye lens, distortion is one of the key features of the image. The distortion can range from lines that appear to bend, to entirely circular images.

When it comes to framing, you need to get in close to the subject, otherwise everything will appear tiny in the final image. This can feel unnatural because you often need to shoot just inches away from the subject.

So even if you’re used to shooting with wide-angle lenses, the best technique is to step right up to your subject, and really embrace the wacky world of fisheye lenses.

PAGE 1: How to use fisheye lenses
PAGE 2: How to get well-balanced exposures with fisheye lenses


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